Amid the clamor of fists pounding wooden desks, Cole Hankins, Miami Associated Student Government’s speaker of the senate, gavelled in the fall semester’s first session of student senate on Sept. 5.
The smell of recent construction lingered in the brand new Joslin Student Senate Chamber as the body welcomed new senators, elected two representatives to the Student Affairs Council and debated its annual budget — which was notable compared to previous years.
Absent from the proposed budget are line items for cabinet meals and gifts, marking the first time in recent years the two controversial inclusions have not appeared in an initial ASG operating budget.
The line items, which totalled about $1,800 for the 2016-2017 school year, were the subject of debate regarding the use of student funds for food and personal goods. Former student body president Maggie Reilly and her administration removed them during the fall 2016 semester under pressure from ASG senate and the student body.
While ASG’s total discretionary allotment for the 2017-2018 school year totals $90,000, the body’s proposed budget lays out $83,270 in spending. The excess, in addition to rollover dollars from the previous school year, will be donated to student organization funding — a significant gesture in light of broad cuts this year to money for clubs.
Annual salaries for executive cabinet members — which range from $5,835 for the student body president to $900 for the speaker pro-tempore of the senate — did not experience their historical cost-of-living raise, which usually sits around 2.5 percent and is awarded to many university employees.
The only position to receive increased compensation was the secretary of finance with a 42 percent raise to $5,075 due to ASG senate legislation passed in the spring 2017 semester which cited the intensive workload and significant responsibilities of the job.
Senators will make the final vote on the proposed budget at the Tuesday Sept. 12 ASG session.
ASG senate elected senior Austin Worrell and junior Brendan Greenlee to Student Affairs Council as student representatives. SAC advises Miami’s Vice President for Student Affairs and has a say in the rules set out by the university that regulate student conduct and other non-academic realms of student life.
An ASG senator and former cabinet member, Worrell is pursuing an Oxford City Council seat in this year’s Nov. election, while Greenlee is a member of ASG’s student court.
The Sept. 5 session was also the first meeting for 14 newly-elected on-campus senators, which represent eight different residence hall districts, as well the resident assistant community.